The United States government has said that there is “a significant amount of evidence” that the current coronavirus pandemic emerged from a Chinese laboratory.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday told the ABC that “There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”
The US spy agency had said earlier last month that the virus did not appear to be man-made or genetically modified.
But Pompeo said “The best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point.”
However in the same interview when told about the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, Pompeo backtracked, saying “I’ve seen what the intelligence community has said. I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong.”
Meanwhile China’s Global Times published an editorial responding to Pompeo’s claim stating that the top US diplomat did not have any evidence to back his claim.
The editorial said the claims that the virus came from the lab in Wuhan was “bluffing.”
“The Trump administration continues to engage in unprecedented propaganda warfare while trying to impede global efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” the editorial said.
Previous claims by scientists
In April scientists sequenced the COVID-19 genome and traced it back to bats found in caves in China’s Yunnan community.
Bats from Yunnan were however used for coronavirus experiment at a Chinese laboratory which is now coming under scrutiny.
And the lab at the center of scrutiny over a potential coronavirus leak has been using U.S. government money to carry out the research on bats from the Yunnan caves.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook the coronavirus experiments on mammals captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan, funded by a $3.7 million grant from the US government.
Scientists now believe the bats from Yunnan could be the original source of the deadly outbreak and not the animal market in Wuhan as was earlier thought.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, is based twenty miles from the wildlife market that was thought to be the location of the original transfer of the virus from animals to humans.
The Mail in the UK reported that document obtained showed that scientists at the lab “experimented on bats as part of a project funded by the US National Institutes of Health, which continues to licence the Wuhan laboratory to receive American money for experiments.”
The Wuhan Institute keeps more than 1,500 strains of deadly viruses, specializes in the research of ‘the most dangerous pathogens’, in particular the viruses carried by bats.
Chinese officials decided to build the institute after the country was ravaged by an outbreak of SARS in 2002 and 2003, killing 775 people and infecting more than 8,000 globally.